The character meet & greet for Asha from Wish has started today at EPCOT. Walt Disney World previously indicated that she would appear later in 2024, which we assumed would mean around Thanksgiving. So this is a pleasant surprise! This post shares the location of where she appears, set times, and our thoughts.
It probably shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Asha is appearing early at EPCOT. Walt Disney World was casting Asha performers for the role earlier this summer and announced during Destination D23 in September that she would do meet & greets at EPCOT, Disneyland in Anaheim, and Disneyland Paris. Perhaps most significantly, Asha appeared live on-stage at that event.
In any case, Asha is now appearing in World Showcase at EPCOT in the “World Showcase Friendship Ambassador Gazebo.” For those unfamiliar with the location (I don’t think I knew its full name until looking at the location in My Disney Experience–it’s informally known as the Gazebo), it’s near the very front of World Showcase, across from the Disney Traders gift shop on the side closer to Mexico and the Odyssey pavilion.
Asha from Wish has the following character meet & greet appearance times:
In terms of strategy and crowd expectations, it’s difficult to predict how Asha’s popularity will play out. As with anything new at Walt Disney World, we’d expect there to be an initial rush of influencers and diehards wanting to be among the first to meet Asha in the next few days.
Once that audience exhausts itself, it’s likely that Asha will see a bit of a lull in popularity until Wish is released in theaters on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (November 22, 2023). At this point, a good portion of her core demographic (families with young children) doesn’t know who she is.
Granted, the Wish trailers have done impressive numbers of YouTube and box office tracking is looking pretty good (relative to other recent releases–a low bar), but most kids still aren’t going to go crazy for Asha until they see the movie. At that point, demand will be dictated by how good Wish is and how much kids love Asha. If this is a ‘Frozen Fever’ situation, we might be looking at multi-hour waits. If Wish does Strange Worlds numbers, she might be a walk-up. As much as we hate lines, we’re really hoping for the former!
Until then, it’ll be interesting to see what lines are like for the next couple of weeks. It’s safe to assume that Walt Disney World itself doesn’t expect Asha to see sustained popularity in the near term. If they did, she wouldn’t be meeting at the Gazebo.
Once Wish is released and/or Thanksgiving crowds arrive, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Asha move into a different location and/or has her appearance times expanded. The high-capacity Mickey & Friends character location in CommuniCore Hall probably isn’t going to be ready by the end of this month, but who knows.
Regardless, we’d recommend seeing one of Asha’s earlier sets if at all possible. As with other character meet & greets, her lines are likely to get longer over the course of the day, and that’s doubly true given crowd dynamics at EPCOT, where World Showcase gets busier as the day goes on. (Our 1-Day EPCOT Itinerary should be pretty conducive to seeing one of Asha’s first couple of sets.)
Disney has also confirmed that Asha from the Walt Disney Animation Studios film Wish will soon make her way to Disneyland in California and Walt Disney Studios Park in Disneyland Paris.
Beginning November 22, 2023 at Disneyland Resort, Asha will appear outside The Royal Hall in Fantasyland, bringing with her a touch of the magical kingdom of Rosas as Star’s playful glow lights up the area. Asha will head to Disneyland Paris later in November 2023 (no date set yet).
Turning to commentary, I have to admit to being quite pleased that Asha isn’t just appearing simultaneous with the release of Wish, but before the film is even out in theaters! This is particularly impressive when contrasted with Mirabel from Encanto, who just finally got a meet & greet in Magic Kingdom…how many years after her movie was a smash hit?!
I’ve complained repeatedly and at length about Walt Disney World being slow to bring new characters to the parks or declining the marketing budgets for Disney+ shows or movie. It seems like the message is finally being heard, and Walt Disney World deserves a huge kudos for doing this with Asha (and the live-action Ariel before this). This is synergy done right!
When you know the history of Florida dragging its feet on this type of thing, it’s bigger news than it might otherwise appear on its face. (Not only is Asha appearing before Wish comes out, but she’s debuting at Walt Disney World before Disneyland. That never happens!!!) A definite step in the right direction, and hopefully a trend that continues! We criticize where it’s due, so it’s likewise only fair to praise Walt Disney World for a job very well done here.
Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing Asha in person. Although I’m not much of a face character person, we now have a daughter and this will be the first princess (?) movie and character appearing since she’s been born. I doubt we’ll be able to see Wish in theaters and am uncertain about even meeting Asha, but it’s still exciting. It should be a lot of fun to see the parks through the eyes of a child and all that!
With that said, I’m more than a little bitter that Asha is appearing in person while the true star of Wish, Valentino the Goat, is being snubbed. Nevertheless, I’m also holding out hope that Disneyland gets the bigmarketing budget for Wish, and brings back the “running of the goats” (Google it) as a tribute to the true star of the new movie.
All joking aside, I’m really excited for Wish and hope it lives up to the 100-year legacy of Walt Disney Animation Studios.
I’ve already shared my excitement for Wish in a previous post about Once Upon a Studio (watch it if you haven’t), but can’t pass up the chance to reiterate it here.
Wish is the tentpole of Disney100, and the Walt Disney Animation Studios is billing it as a story that’s a century in the making. The epic animated musical is inspired by the legacy of films from the studio and asks the question: “How did the famous Wishing Star, upon which so many Disney characters have wished, come to be?”
Wish is set in Rosas, the kingdom of wishes where wishes can literally come true. The movie introduces 17-year-old Asha—an optimist with a sharp wit who cares endlessly about her community. In a moment of desperation, Asha makes an impassioned plea to the stars, which is answered by a cosmic force, a little ball of boundless energy called Star.
Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe—the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico—to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.
I’ve been trying not to get too excited about this, but I can’t help myself. Wish looks incredible.
The story itself, the setting, watercolor animation style, the characters–everything. It looks like the perfect recipe for a heartwarming animated film that only Disney could deliver, perfect for Disney100.
There’s a lot in Wish that reminds me of the Walt-era films, which I absolutely love. (More on that in a minute.) It also has Frozen, Moana, and Coco vibes–three of our favorite four (plus Inside Out) movies from Walt Disney Animation Studios or Pixar in the last decade.
I would imagine that many of you already saw the trailer for Wish, but that you might’ve seen it on social media in a lower resolution, which made the visual style look weird. I’d encourage you to rewatch this version, making sure that 4K is turned on. It looks so much better:
Not to get too carried away, but I’d also encourage you to watch the international trailer, which has some minor and major differences that make it better as a whole:
What I really like about this is that it’s an original story that also doubles as a love letter to the technical and storytelling legacy of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Now, I’m hardly an animation expert, but even in the trailer, there were little nods that I noticed to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Sleeping Beauty.
This also isn’t just fan-service in the form of Easter Eggs or hidden references–we’re talking things like shots inspired by the multiplane camera. There’s a lot that’ll be lost on mainstream audiences, but Disney fans will truly appreciate.
More than anything else, I’m happy that it’s an ambitious original story (and one with an actual villain again!), and not another heartless “live action” (is that even accurate given that 95% of those movies are manufactured by computers?) remake, origin story that no one asked for, or paint-by-numbers cash grab sequel (that somehow still manages to lose money because it inexplicably cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make).
Suffice to say, I am really looking forward to Wish. Disney already seems confident in its quality, with a stronger marketing campaign for this than we’ve seen for the last several animated movies. That’s why they’re already releasing the soundtrack for Wish, and probably is the reason why Asha is now appearing at EPCOT.
Here’s hoping that Wish is every bit as good as the trailers make it look, that it makes a boatload of money at the box office, and reminds the executives just why fans started falling in love with the Walt Disney Animation Studios 100 years ago. I’d love to see the second 100 years start with a new renaissance, and a renewed focus on original storytelling, creativity, and passion projects.
Are you looking forward to meeting Asha at EPCOT? Surprised and pleased that she’s appearing in the parks before the movie is even out, rather than showing up ~2 years later?! Will you be watching Wish in theaters or waiting for it to hit Disney+? Have you been watching the trailers? Notice the nods to Walt-era animated classics? Excited for the movie, and hope it marks a return to creative, original storytelling for Disney? Agree or disagree with our take? Any questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!